DETROIT (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will campaign in the Midwest on Saturday, as the two prepare for a showdown in Michigan, Missouri and four other nominating contests next week.
Sanders, who was until recently the front-runner in the party’s race to face Republican President Donald Trump in November, is trying to regain momentum after Biden received a rush of endorsements from party establishment figures following his strong ‘Super Tuesday’ showing this week.
He has ramped up attacks on Biden in recent days, including at a rally in Detroit on Friday night, where he criticized the former vice president’s voting record on the Iraq war and trade deals.
The two White House hopefuls will face off on Tuesday in Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington state, North Dakota, and Michigan, where a big win for Biden would deliver a major blow to Sanders’ hopes of becoming the nominee.
SANDERS FOCUSES ON MICHIGAN
On Saturday, Sanders begins a weekend of campaigning in the crucial battleground state of Michigan, which offers 125 of the 1,991 delegates needed to win the nomination.
Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, will hold a rally in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, and a town hall focused on racial and economic justice in Flint. On Sunday he is set to visit Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 6,000 in downtown Detroit on Friday, Sanders, 78, continued to assail Biden for voting for the war in Iraq and trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he said had cost millions of American jobs in Michigan and other battleground states.
“Now, if we are going to defeat Trump in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, it will be very hard for a candidate who voted for these disastrous trade deals,” Sanders said.
Sanders questioned whether Biden could generate enough energy and enthusiasm to prevail against Trump. But he also called Biden a friend, and said both were in agreement that they would support the other against Trump should the other win the nomination.
BIDEN CAMPAIGNS IN MISSOURI
Biden, 77, is expected to campaign on Saturday in St. Louis and Kansas City, where he is scheduled to be joined by U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, a former Congressional Black Caucus chairman who endorsed Biden in September.
Showing continued momentum following his Super Tuesday wins, Biden’s campaign said on Friday it had raised about $22 million in five days.
“What we can’t let happen is (to) let this primary become a negative bloodbath,” Biden said on Friday, adding that he was going to consider how to respond to an increasingly adversarial campaign run by Sanders.
Reporting by Michael Martina and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Edwina Gibbs